2008.06.16: June 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mozambique: Gay Issues: gaywired: Zachery Scott writes: Can You Take my Picture?

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mozambique: Peace Corps Mozambique : Peace Corps Mozambique: Newest Stories: 2008.06.16: June 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mozambique: Gay Issues: gaywired: Zachery Scott writes: Can You Take my Picture?

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Zachery Scott writes: Can You Take my Picture?

Zachery Scott  writes: Can You Take my Picture?

I asked a friend of mine who grew up here why children are always asking to have a picture taken. He said that it is probably because there is comfort in knowing that someone out there has a record of the person’s life. So many people live and die alone, that maybe they find reassurance in the knowledge that someone will remember them, documenting and confirming their existence on this planet; not letting them be forgotten like the countless that have already come and gone. Needless to say, I have been more eager to take their picture; still learning that it’s the little things in life that make a difference.

Zachery Scott writes: Can You Take my Picture?

Letters from Southern Africa: Can You Take my Picture?

A gay life in transition, from Weho to Southern Africa

By Zachery Scott | Article Date: 5/26/2008 2:30 AM

Can you take my picture?

That seems to be the most common question asked of me, especially from children, since moving to my site several months ago—followed by a close second of, “Why is the hair on your back not on your head?”

It seems everyone wants to have their picture taken when they see a camera, though they rarely ask for a copy of the picture to have as a keepsake, which perplexed me. But more on that later…

After ten weeks of training near my country’s capital, I was stationed in my community, a rural town, as a health volunteer for a grassroots agricultural organization.

My job is to improve the organization’s capacity while creating and integrating HIV related programs into the community. Vague, right? Thankfully, I work well within broad parameters.

When I arrived to site in December, I was greeted with singing activistas and smiling faces. I carried with me bold ideas for projects, experience working with groups and a sense of invulnerability to what might lay ahead.

What I realized when I arrived in my community was that none of this mattered. My ideas were incompatible with the needs and resources of the community. My experience was worth squat when dealing with different cultures and in different languages. And my emotional vulnerability soon became very apparent.

My organization works with hundreds of HIV infected women and orphans in the community. Many of these orphans are heads of households, since losing both parents and not having other family to rely upon.

This week I visited one such household, headed by two children, age 9 and 12. They had lost both parents to AIDS and my organization was currently helping them build a kitchen out of caniço reeds.

Our organization pays the roughly $3 for school fees for many of our orphans, as well as monthly food allotments. As we sat on the ground on an esteira mat, my activistas— speaking in the local language to the children (of which I have not yet begun to master)—I started thinking about the realities that these children face everyday; waking up alone with only the understanding that you need to try and survive and make it one day at a time.

The other more superfluous aspects of childhood, like education, playing sports or taking an interest in a hobby, obviously play a much less prominent role in their lives. Sickness and death are less abstract concepts and more stark realities than they are for other children.

In spite of all this, the children seemed happy for our visit. They didn’t complain about the cards life had dealt them, but merely smiled and said thank you for the assistance being received… and then, of course, asked for me to take a picture of them.

I asked a friend of mine who grew up here why children are always asking to have a picture taken. He said that it is probably because there is comfort in knowing that someone out there has a record of the person’s life. So many people live and die alone, that maybe they find reassurance in the knowledge that someone will remember them, documenting and confirming their existence on this planet; not letting them be forgotten like the countless that have already come and gone.

Needless to say, I have been more eager to take their picture; still learning that it’s the little things in life that make a difference.




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Headlines: June, 2008; Peace Corps Mozambique; Directory of Mozambique RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Mozambique RPCVs; Gay Issues





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Story Source: gaywired

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mozambique; Gay Issues

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